Home the hard Way by Z.A. Maxfield

homehardwayDare Buckley has come home—or at least, he’s come back to Palladian, the small town he left as a teenager. After a major lapse in judgment forced him to resign from the Seattle PD, Palladian is the only place that’ll hire him. There’s one benefit to hitting rock bottom, though: the chance to investigate the mystery of his father’s suicide.

Dare also gets to reacquaint himself with Finn Fowler, whose childhood hero worship ended in uncomfortable silence when Dare moved away. But Finn isn’t the same little kid Dare once protected. He’s grown into an attractive, enigmatic stranger who neither wants nor needs what Dare has to offer.

In fact, Dare soon realizes that Finn’s keeping secrets—his own and the town’s. And he doesn’t seem to care that Dare needs answers. The atmosphere in Palladian, like its namesake river, appears placid, but dark currents churn underneath. When danger closes in, Dare must pit his ingenuity against his heart, and find his way home the hard way.

Kimi’s review:

This was one of those books whose pieces simply fell together into one cohesive whole, making a picture you didn’t expect but are utterly in love with. Dare moved away from Palladium as a teen following his father’s suicide. Once grown up, became a police officer with the Seattle P.D. After falling from grace, he returns to Palladium to lick his wounds and start over, working for the sheriff’s department. It’s not an easy thing, as there are those who think he’s gotten the job they believed they should have been promoted to, people feeling awkward over the cloud the family left town over, and other small town issues. Dare doesn’t care as much about that as one might expect because he’s determined to ferret out the truth of his father’s suicide while he’s there.

He runs into walls that surprise him, not the least one being whatever Finn seems to be keeping from him. Finn isn’t the same kid who had a case of hero worship back in the day, but someone is still most definitely bullying him. It’s not all empty threats either, as mysterious events unfold tat could have lethal consequences. Mix in the sexual tension between Dare and Finn, add in a bit of fairly light BDSM play, and you have a cop who’s heart is smitten and hopes like hell that he can figure out just what is really going on with Finn and the town of Palladium. When the truth leads back to a long ago night and Finn’s own deceased mother, who’d been known as the town whore, secrets are revealed that rock the town and Dare to their core. I know I certainly was taken by surprised as hadn’t seen that coming. Recommended.

Buy from ARe  Amazon Riptide 

Rating: 4.5


The Flesh Cartel (complete series) by Rachel Haimowitz and Heidi Belleau

cover52093-mediumSublime service, made to order.

The Flesh Cartel: an international, multi-billion-dollar black market that trades in lost souls. Or more specifically, their bodies. The Cartel trainers are masters at breaking a human mind. Fortunately for their ultra-rich clients, they’re just as skilled at putting people back together again—as perfect pets, well-trained and eager to please.

Two orphaned brothers caught by the Cartel learn just how far the human spirit can bend—and how badly it can break. But with support from each other and a determined FBI agent, they may also learn how to live—and love—once again.


This is a serialized story now available in five novels in print and ebook.

Reader discretion advised. This title contains the following sensitive themes: explicit violence, forced incest, non-consent, dubious consent, drug use, kidnapping/abduction, self-harm.

Kimi’s review:

Holy shit. To say this wa not an easy read would perhaps be the understatement of the century. It’s not a romance, so put that idea right out of your head. It’s a taut psychosexual thriller that takes you on a bareknuckle ride through Hell and gone. I won’t say back, because there is no coming back from something like this. There is an out and forward, but no way back.

Big brother Mat has sacrificed a lot in order to make a home with his brother and put him through university. Doug, or Dougie as Mat still calls him, is close to completing his PH.d in psychology. Unfortunately, Doug has caught the eye of some unsavoury types who decide to take him as he fits the profile for being some one they can disappear easily enough- orphaned, alone except for a brother who’s an MMA fighter on a downward spiral, barely keeping their heads above water, and very, very attractive. When an exceedingly rich man puts in a request for a certain body type and look, wheels are set into motion to make his disappearance one that doesn’t raise any suspicion. Unfortunately for Mat, he comes home a bit earlier than they had anticipated and finds he too is grabbed.

What follows is a regime of sexual and mental abuse designed to break the men’s minds and spirits, with a lot of what happens being helped along by other victims of the cartel. Nor are they the only victims currently being broken and sold, which they discover to their horror, as both male and female victims are heard in the cells and seen in various locations at the facility. Auctioned off as a pair at an auction that quite frankly made my hair stand on end, they are bought by a trainer. Nicolei is a consummate professional in training sex slaves. It’d be easy to hate him as we watch the mind games he plays with Mat and Dougie, but rather than give us a completely unlikable villain, the authors gave us a complex man who has genuine regrets and affection for his charges. It’s quite a conundrum, made all the more tragic when it all starts to come apart for the cartel. I couldn’t bring myself to feel affection for him, but my heart did break for him and for his right hand man. In another life, given very different circumstances, their lives would have been very different instead of being warped beyond all reason.

The story doesn’t end when the brothers are at last sold by Nicolei to their master either. FBI agent Nate Johnson has been a long time fan of  Mat, and he has been following his instincts that something doesn’t add up with the MMA fighter and his PH.d candidate brother’s disappearance. he’s like a dog with a bone, and he doesn’t stop until he has the answers he’s looking for. Of course, the truth is much, much bigger than he’d ever dreamed, and it makes for an explosive  climax  when law enforcement pulls off their operation. Following up on what happens afterwards was a rare treat, but it was not a ready made HEA. Nate and Mat connect on a personal level, which was indeed very romantic, but Dougie was straight and his head is having a hard time separating out sex and affection and feelings of well-being. Given that his mind and body have been conditioned to associate sex with a male master as “happiness”, he’s in a bad place. The authors manage to showcase how his sexual traumas cause this, and his finding his way out of it, without demonising the LGBT community.

It’s a very well written series, but one I could only read in VERY small doses and with a lot of happy in-between as it is simply so vividly depicted that it crawled right under my skin and wormed itself into my brain. The abusive pseudo BDSM (it’s NOT BDSM of course, despite the twisted lies the masters tell themselves, it’s abuse) in particular is brutal, and of course anything but safe, sane, and consensual, so readers should be warned that a rather strong stomach for those scenes alone is required.

This title can be purchased as a serial or as a series with three seasons (volumes) from Riptide.

Rating: 5


A Scout is Brave (The Two-Spirit Chronicles #2) by Jay Jordan Hawke


From Harmony Ink Press:
In the months following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, fourteen-year-old Joshua, a half Native American boy, is new to a Boy Scout troop and spending a week camping in northern Wisconsin. The weaker kids in the troop soon realize Joshua is not afraid to stand up to the troop’s ruthless bullies. Joshua’s bravery and kindness is infectious, and the bullied Scouts quickly find their own inner strength.

Joshua, however, is plagued by self-doubt as he realizes he has feelings for Cody, the son of the troop’s harsh and puritanical Scoutmaster. The two discover they have more in common than Scouting as they share their deepest secrets and develop a close friendship. That friendship faces its greatest challenge as the homophobic bullies claim a “faggot” has “infected” their troop. As if struggling to come to terms with his sexuality while dealing with hatred and bigotry isn’t enough, Joshua discovers the camp holds another dark mystery, one that will make him summon all his courage and learn for the first time what it truly means to be brave.

Kimi’s thoughts:
This is the sequel to Pukawiss the Outcast and while it reads just fine on its own, I recommend reading Pukawiss first as you will gain a much deeper understanding to undercurrents within the book. This is especially true regarding Joshua’s struggle with his mother and how the pastor/Scout troop leader wish to mould him and his fellow youth as well as the strength of Native American mysticism that runs through the book.

Joshua is a very likeable young man and has a charisma about him that quickly draws the bullied children to him as he stands up for them and himself. It also touches upon many aspects of growing up and how adults try to manipulate things in an effort to guide youth, some very well intentioned albeit thoughtless and others because it is simply the way things have always been done. Joshua confronts unintended bigotry when he attends coursework for badges and even during a ceremony intending to promote Native american values. Reading what happened to him reminded me of an incident in my own childhood well over a decade before this was set, when my public school class studied Native Americans and were assigned “Indian” names. I explained that I didn’t need one; I already had one. “You can’t use that, you have to have a proper one,” I was told. This indignity was compounded when Thanksgiving rolled by. I got to make a Pilgrim hat out of paper to wear to lunch. Boys got to choose between making a Pilgrim hat or a headband with a paper feather. Refusal got me, “But it’s Thanksgiving!” No amount of discourse could get anyone to see that any of it was offensive, no matter that this as unintentional on their part. Then there was the time I applied to a student exchange program. My father, a recently retired serviceman, was fawned over because they assumed he was as they said to his face, “a poor Indian dirt farmer”. The local committee members were busy congratulating each other on being so forward in their thinking that they would welcome such a man and help him gain sponsorship for his daughter to study abroad as a high school exchange student that they completely failed to see their own hypocrisy. Needless to say, I decided to not participate in their program.

Joshua’s camp experiences will no doubt echo true for many other children of Native descent who have had to deal with non Natives. Add to the mix that his mother is white and at odds with his heritage and you again have a very familiar story for many youths of mixed heritage. When you toss in the gay, mix in conservative religion, and Scouting, you get a volatile mix indeed. It’s a frank look at growing up different, remaining true, and taking a stand for what’s fair, just and right. It speaks about what has been so wrong for so long, allowing us to see how things have changed, are changing, and what still needs to change.
Recommended for youths ages 12 and up and for adults who enjoy well written YA stories.

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And the Children Shall Lead (The Knight Cycle #4) by Michael J. Bowler

23205951The campaign to save California’s children was only the beginning. Now King Arthur and his Round Table of teenaged knights set their sights on fixing something even bigger – the entire country. How? By targeting America’s most sacred document – The Constitution.

Native American teens Kai and Dakota, despite harboring secrets of their own, join the team, and swear undying loyalty to Lance. They carry the hope of their people that the crusade will better the lives of Indian children, who are the most neglected by government. This new campaign will take the young people to The White House, the halls of Congress, and beyond in their quest to change the prevailing opinion that children are property, rather than human beings in their own right.

But an unseen nemesis stalks Lance and Arthur, and ratchets up the attacks on New Camelot, promising to kill them and destroy all that the king has put in place. Lance, Ricky, Kai, and Dakota become the enemy’s favorite targets, and barely escape with their lives on more than one occasion. Who is this mysterious stalker, and what is the motive for these attacks? Lance has no idea, especially since he’s never intentionally hurt anyone.

“You were right, little boy, death is coming for you, but slowly, and only after it takes out the people you love.” That chilling promise haunts Lance, but also strengthens his determination to protect the people he loves at all costs. Or die trying.

The Knight Cycle continues…

Kimi’s thoughts:

This is one of those series that you see kicking about and then one day, decide, “I keep seeing this about, winning awards and what not, but it doesn’t seem to be that huge. I’m gonna check it out and see what the deal is.” So you pick it up, and read the first volume. It makes you stop and think. It challenges you, and you see something that you never maybe really saw before. You rad the next one, right away, never mind the book’s length.

You think, Holy cow, I’m not sure about some of their ideas, but man, this is one compelling read. Then you come to understand that you were not supposed to necessarily side the way you assumed. Also, that the issues being dealt with are a lot more complex than you had possibly wanted to know. But what has been seen cannot be unseen, so now, moving pell mell onto volume three, you have to face it head on.

You find you object to issues you had thought you stood firmly on the other side for, perhaps. You find that if you stood against what they fought, your ideals  do not match up with what actually needs doing. You see the youth you dismiss as thuggish as who he is, inside. It’s disquietening. It also makes you feel great joy as you see the power of hope and personal effort.

Then you come to this volume. The Constitution? Really? But while this is fantasy, it again makes you give pause. The rights of children, these are things we’ve al fought for, in one way or another The right for children to go to school. the right for them not to slave away in factories and sweat shops. Basic human rights. And all through this, there is an exciting action adventure with modern Knights of the Roundtable, male and female alike, righting wrongs, helping the needy, and fighting back against those who wish to do evil.

It’s a great read, and I’m going to say this once, if you have kids, 11 or older, buy them these books. Gay, straight, bi, white, black, Latino, male, female, young old…they are ALL in this book and they are ALL heroes. It’s a nice self affirming read for youth, and the subplot with young Lance coming to accept his orientation is beautiful.

Rating: 4.5

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A Scout is Brave Tour with Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

ScoutIsBraveIn the months following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, fourteen-year-old Joshua, a half Native American boy, is new to a Boy Scout troop and spending a week camping in northern Wisconsin. The weaker kids in the troop soon realize Joshua is not afraid to stand up to the troop’s ruthless bullies. Joshua’s bravery and kindness is infectious, and the bullied Scouts quickly find their own inner strength.
Joshua, however, is plagued by self-doubt as he realizes he has feelings for Cody, the son of the troop’s harsh and puritanical Scoutmaster. The two discover they have more in common than Scouting as they share their deepest secrets and develop a close friendship. That friendship faces its greatest challenge as the homophobic bullies claim a “faggot” has “infected” their troop. As if struggling to come to terms with his sexuality while dealing with hatred and bigotry isn’t enough, Joshua discovers the camp holds another dark mystery, one that will make him summon all his courage and learn for the first time what it truly means to be brave.


Joshua didn’t know how far or for how long he had run. He desperately gasped for air but didn’t stop running. It didn’t matter to him where he was going. As he ran, he pushed his body to its limits.

When he felt tired, he increased his speed. When cramps gripped his chest, he ignored them. The harder he pushed his body, the more he had to concentrate on moving it and the more willpower it took to compensate for the overwhelming instinct to stop. The harder Joshua pushed, the less room there was in his head to contemplate what had just happened. Total concentration went into continuing his physical exertion.

All the willpower in the world, however, would not allow Joshua to continue to exceed his body’s natural limits. Eventually, it began to weaken. His rapid speed finally slowed to a crawl, and his steady course was replaced by recurrent stumbles. Joshua tried to correct his performance, but ultimately his body gave in, and he tripped on his own feet, tumbling to the ground. A moment of elation overcame his body as it enjoyed the sudden relaxation in tension. Then everything rushed back to him, and Joshua felt the full force of reality drag him desperately back down into an inescapable dark void of despair.

Buy from Amazon Dreamspinner

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Author Bio:
Jay Jordan Hawke holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in history, as well as a second master’s in Outdoor Education. He loves everything sci-fi, especially Star Trek, and hopes to be on the first starship out of here. In the meantime, he teaches at a college prep school and anxiously awaits the day when he can write full time. In addition to all things sci-fi, his hobbies include camping, reading, running, and writing. He has lived in several Midwestern states and currently resides in Indiana. Ugh – get me out of here!
Author Contact:

Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain

There Is No Fear (The Knight Cycle #3) by Michael J. Bowler



The most famous boy in the world is a prisoner. He’s been charged with a crime he didn’t commit, a crime that could send him to prison for the rest of his life. Languishing within The Compound, the most secure juvenile facility in California, while the district attorney vows to make an example of him because of his celebrity status, Lance must endure the daily indignities of the incarcerated.

New Camelot is fractured without him. Ricky and Chris are bereft, living for the weekly phone call that becomes their only lifeline to the brother they so desperately love, while Arthur and Jenny feel the loss of their son with a sadness that can’t be quelled. And what about Michael, the highly volatile teen who helped write the proposition that will change California forever? Could he really be the monster he says he is? His hatred of Ricky is palpable, and his instability may well threaten the lives of everyone at New Camelot.

As the election looms closer, Proposition 51 takes on an even greater significance in light of the pending trial of the century. The more harshly fifteen-year-old Lance is treated within the broken justice system, the more he contemplates the wisdom of his idea that children need more adult rights. If The Child Voter Act becomes law, won’t it simply allow adults to throw more kids into prison with impunity?

Whichever way the voters decide, his greatest fear remains the same: will he ever again be with the people he loves?

The Knight Cycle Continues…

Kimi’s thoughts:

While working hard to secure children’s rights, with the choice before state voters to either always treat kids 14 and up as adults or always as children, Lance finds himself becoming an unwitting poster child for the criminal justice system. Once again Bowler casts a frank eye at the unpleasant side of what reality is like for too many of today’s youth and makes us look it square in the face. Lance’s experience shows the good with the bad, making for a balanced look that challenges the reader to consider how things can be improved, benefitting society at large as well as the individual.

Lance continues with his struggle for identity and the situation he finds himself in doesn’t help matters. It does however give him a lot of time to think. What makes a person a monster? Does a person doing something horrible make them irredeemable? And what about doing one thing to redress one wrong, while unintentionally opening the door for more possible abuse? Lance’s very incarceration is thanks to such an occurrence, from laws designed to keep dangerously violent offenders off the streets trickling down to children who only MAY have committed a violent crime. It’s a study in the very nature of checks and balances and the need to look at the individual and the facts before to rushing to judgements, whether personal or legal. It’s also a good hard look at the nature of love and of self acceptance. Kimi deems it another must read for both youths and adults.

Rating: 4.5


Buy from Amazon UK     Amazon US 

Running Through a Dark Place (The Knight Cycle #2) by Michael Bowler

21873271King Arthur and his extraordinary young Knights used ‘might’ for ‘right’ to create a new Camelot in the City of Angels. They rallied the populace around their cause, while simultaneously putting the detached politicians in check. But now they must move forward to even greater heights, despite what appears to be an insurmountable tragedy.

Their new goal is lofty: give equality to kids fourteen and older who are presently considered adults only when they break the law. Arthur’s crusade seeks to give them real rights such as voting, driving, trading high school for work, and sitting as jurors for their peers charged with criminal behavior.

Understanding that the adults of California will likely be against them, Arthur and his Knights must determine how best to win them over.

However, before the king can even contemplate these matters, he finds himself face to face with an ally from the past, one who proves that everything isn’t always what it seems – even life and death.

The Knight Cycle Continues…

Kimi’s thoughts:

It’s not an Arthurian tale without Merlin, and here he makes his first appearance and it’s with a trick that makes the whole world sit up and watch intently. Unsure if it’s the hand of God at work, Satan playing games, an elaborate hoax, or something else all together, everyone has an opinion and wants to do nothing but talk about it. This puts the Arthur and his Knights square in the spotlight san Facebook, Twitter, TV, radio, and the rest of the electronically connected world go absolutely crazy.

It’s a double edged sword. they can use their visibility to rally more to their cause but it comes with great cost. From paparazzi to protestors, to fanatical fans, everyone wants a piece of Camelot and for their own agendas. Learning to handle the spotlight even in the midst of tragedy is a hard lesson. So is learning to accept one’s self worth and coming to grips with one’s burgeoning sexuality. The characters are as beautifully flawed as ever, but always striving to improve themselves and the world around them.

The current crusade of fixing up the crumbling neighbourhoods is well under way, and the new one of drafting a ballot measure regarding children’s rights is one that understandably has many adults balking. It’s sensitively handled though, and it is very hard indeed to argue with the notion that children are either always children or are deserving of being treated as adults in many more legal matters than merely those within the criminal justice system.

This is a darker read than the first in the series, with more details of abuse being revealed. Younger teens may finds several of the scenes distressing, but I still highly recommend this for mature readers aged 11 and up. I urge adults tor read it as well, and to talk about the issues within with their children.  I will warn you that it ends on a cliffhanger, so be ready to have to hit the buy button for volume three. I just hope it picks up right where it left off, as this volume did from book one.

Rating: 4


Buy from Amazon  Amazon UK 

Children of the Knight (The Knight Cycle #1) by Michael J. Bowler

17939303According to legend, King Arthur is supposed to return when Britain needs him most. So why does a man claiming to be the once and future king suddenly appear in Los Angeles?

This charismatic young Arthur creates a new Camelot within the City of Angels to lead a crusade of unwanted kids against an adult society that discards and ignores them. Under his banner of equality, every needy child is welcome, regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation, or gang affiliation.

With the help of his amazing First Knight, homeless fourteen-year-old Lance, Arthur transforms this ragtag band of rejected children and teens into a well-trained army—the Children of the Knight. Through his intervention, they win the hearts and minds of the populace at large, and gain a truer understanding of themselves and their worth to society. But seeking more rights for kids pits Arthur and the children squarely against the rich, the influential, and the self-satisfied politicians who want nothing more than to maintain the status quo.

Can right truly overcome might? Arthur’s hopeful young knights are about to find out, and the City of Angels will never be the same.

Kimi’s thoughts:

Michael Bowler stuns with his depiction of modern disenfranchised youth, disillusioned and jaded adults, political greed and corruption, and the purity of hope. 14 year old Lance is a former foster child who is now a kid on the streets struggling to survive when he comes across the strange sight of a strangely dressed man riding a horse. Local gangs are at each others throats over a tag that’s been appearing all over the city, and the LAPD want the tagger caught before all out war erupts. What no one suspects is that this is no ordinary tag- it’s an announcement of hope. King Arthur, the once and future king himself, has indeed returned as legend foretold, only it’s not to Britain, but modern day LA. With Lance as his First Knight, Arthur looks to establish a new Round Table, to teach chivalry to a new generation, and to right the ills of society.

It might sound fantastical, and this is indeed a fantasy, albeit a gritty one. The ills mentioned in this novel are all too real: one size all education that doesn’t properly meet the needs of students, the rifeness of drugs on the street and the recruitment of children to peddle them and who are in turn cultivated as customers, abandoned children tossed onto the street, political corruption, crumbling neighbourhoods, racism, homophobia, and misogyny to name but a few of the societal ills. It’s not a story that will make a lot of adults feel comfortable, as it challenges some of the things that have been taken for granted and that feed our sense of control. It certainly made me stop and think. The more I thought, the more I realised that this book has something VERY important to say, and that I wanted my own two children to read it immediately.

It’s a story about empowerment- not just for kids, but for adults. Yes, adults. Adults who realise that children are always children, and cannot be adults because they are NOT adults. That they behave the way they are taught, and that each member of society is responsible for the examples a child learns by. It’s also a story that is about female empowerment, filled with strong adult and youth role models. It’s about LGBT youth and straight youth, of every colour, all coming together and using their personal strengths to help each other and those around them to make the world a better place. It’s about finding out who you are and your place in the world. It’s both frightening and inspiring. It’s simply a must read, regardless of your age.

Highly recommended.

Rating: amazing


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Blue Days by Mary Calmes

Optimized-Blue daysFalling for a coworker is rarely a good idea, especially for a man getting a last chance at salvaging his career. But from the moment Dwyer Knolls sees the beautiful but socially awkward Takeo Hiroyuki, he seems destined to make bad decisions.

Takeo’s life is a string of failed attempts to please his traditional Japanese father. Unfortunately, succeeding in business turns out to be just as difficult for Takeo as changing from gay to straight. In fact, the only thing Takeo seems to truly excel at is taking notice of Dwyer Knolls.

When Dwyer and Takeo head to Mangrove, Florida on a real estate buying trip, their tentative friendship combusts and becomes much more. Is their sudden connection real enough to bank their futures on, or should they chalk the whole thing up to the daze inspired by the blue ocean breeze?

Marieke’s Review:

Dwyer thinks he’s about to lose his job, but then is give a new partner. Mak is hilarious and they are a perfect team. But Mak is not the only new colleague Dwyer gets. Takeo Hiroyuki is Dwyer’s dream man, but he has no idea is the man is gay. He starts to talk and ‘play’ with Takeo.

Takeo is Japanese, and doesn’t get the whole social conversation thing. He takes everything too literal and is a perfectionist to the littlest detail. He’s all business and no pleasure to everyone but Dwyer. His colleagues start calling him the Ice Prince.

Then one day Dwyer has to go to Florida for business, but instead of Mak, Takeo comes along. The trip changes everything, their relationship, their jobs and their ideals for the future.


Mary Calmes is not my favorite author… Yes I know, people will be shocked and all that, but that’s just my taste. I did, however, liked this book a whole lot. The only thing I would’ve changed was the length. If it was longer, the part from friends to lovers could’ve been worked out better.

I love Takeo. Dwyer is sweet and funny, but in this story Takeo stole my heart. He’s so clueless and socially awkward, I just had to love him. His father is––predictably–– the asshole here, and I was very happy that the two men move on without remorse.

But this bit could have been more angty too. More confrontation, and maybe even a bit of a rough spot with the new B&B, because dad was making it hard for them. But, as it is a novella, this was not annoying or anything.

It was a heart-warming story with lots of humor. It’s definitely something the Mary fans will adore, as did I.

Rating: 4


Pukawiss the Outcast (The Two Spirit Chronicles #1) by Jay Jordan Hawke

PukawissFrom Dreamspinner:

When family complications take Joshua away from his fundamentalist Christian mother and leave him with his grandfather, he finds himself immersed in a mysterious and magical world. Joshua’s grandfather is a Wisconsin Ojibwe Indian who, along with an array of quirky characters, runs a recreated sixteenth-century village for the tourists who visit the reservation. Joshua’s mother kept him from his Ojibwe heritage, so living on the reservation is liberating for him. The more he learns about Ojibwe traditions, the more he feels at home.

One Ojibwe legend in particular captivates him. Pukawiss was a powerful manitou known for introducing dance to his people, and his nontraditional lifestyle inspires Joshua to embrace both his burgeoning sexuality and his status as an outcast. Ultimately, Joshua summons the courage necessary to reject his strict upbringing and to accept the mysterious path set before him.

Kimi’s thoughts:

Joshua is a teen living in modern America, with a white mother and a father who is Ojibwe living as a “non Indian”. What does that mean? It means his father tries to conform to what the narrow definition of civilised Christian that his wife insists on, only to end up disconnected from himself and his family. Joshua’s father takes off, leaving Joshua alone with his mother’s rigid outlook and rules. This would be difficult enough, but Joshua’s world is thrown further topsy turvy when his mother decides she needs to find herself and that Joshua should go stay on the Ojibwa reservation with a grandfather he barely remembers.

Joshua is in for deep culture shock. he doesn’t know the native tongue spoken on a daily basis by members of the tribe, doesn’t know any of the legends, recognise any of the foods, know how to tribal dance, and encounters racism from two fronts as he’s not white enough nor Ojibwe enough according to some.  Adding to his confusion is an increased awareness of his own sexuality. He finds personal strength through the tale of Pukawiss and through it, reaches out to embrace his native heritage and accept his homosexuality.

This doesn’t set well with church volunteers who have self appointed themselves as outreach workers to the tribe, and his mother hears of his “heathen” ways. It leads to a conflict between himself, the tribe, his grandfather, mother, and the self appointed guardians of “Christian civilisation”. The far right religious views of the ministry and his mother are accompanied by ideas of “civilising” that in years past led to the en masse removal of Indian children across the uS and Canada and re-education at boarding schools where they were punished for speaking their native tongues, disallowed to eat their traditional foods, dance their dances, share their legends, or do anything else that was perceived as “Indian”. It’s what led Joshua’s father to break as he did, and why Joshua had no knowledge of his own heritage. How Joshua stands firm, claiming the power of Pukawiss for himself, is a story of great power.

Rating: amazing